We’re new to Loveland, but we’re learning a lot about the town. While we, like many in Greater Cincinnati, were familiar with the “Sweetheart of Ohio,” we didn’t know a lot of details, so we looked a little further into the things that make this community so unique.
Probably the first thing people think of when they think of Loveland is this famous castle along the Little Miami River. It was the brainchild of Harry S. Andrews a World War I veteran and Boy Scout troop leader. He started building the structure in 1929, naming it Château Laroche after a military hospital in France.
The land on which the castle sits was originally 11 campsites obtained by Andrews from The Cincinnati Enquirer as part of a subscription promotion. Subscribers paying a year in advance received a 20 by 100-foot campsite along the Little Miami.
At first, Andrews used rocks pulled from the Little Miami to construct his castle. When he ran out of suitable river rocks, he switched to bricks molded from milk cartons. He worked on Château Laroche until he passed away in 1981. The castle was willed to his Boy Scout troop who oversaw its completion.
Loveland Bike Trail
The Loveland Bike Trail as it is commonly known, is officially part of the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The entire trail runs from Beechmont Avenue near the junction of State Route 32 in Anderson Township to Springfield. Much of the trail between Milford and Yellow Springs uses the old right-of-way from the Pennsylvania/Little Miami Railroad which operated from 1836 until the mid-1970s. Work on the trail began in 1983, and the master plan calls for it to eventually connect Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Also known as the Loveland Lizard, the Loveland Frogman is a mythical creature first spotted in 1955 reportedly by a traveling salesman near Branch Hill Rd. No further sightings occurred until 1972 when a Loveland police officer saw an odd creature with leathery skin, roughly 3 to 4 feet tall, scurry across Riverside Drive. Two weeks later, another officer had a similar encounter but shot the creature and put it in the trunk of his patrol car. It was later identified as a large iguana that was missing its tail.
The officer who shot the iguana insists the Frogman is a hoax, but as recently as 2016 the Frogman has been spotted. WCPO Channel 9 reported that a couple saw a frog-like creature while playing Pokemon Go around Lake Isabella. They said the creature they saw was about 4-feet tall and briefly stood on its hind legs. They even got a picture.
Some species of iguana can grow to 5 feet i length, and there are also several species of lizards that can walk on their hind legs. So, the question now might be, “is Loveland infested with iguanas?”
Historic Downtown Loveland
There are 61 communities in Ohio that cross a county line, with Loveland crossing three (Hamilton, Clermont, and Warren) . The area was first settled by Europeans in 1795. By the 1840s it was a bustling railroad stop centered on a general store and post office owned by James Loveland. In 1876, the community was incorporated as a village and named after the store owner. In 1961 it became a city.
The oldest parts of Loveland straddle the Little Miami River, the border between Hamilton and Clermont counties. Historic Downtown lay on the east bank of the river, while most of the rest of the city is in Hamilton County to the west. A small bit north of downtown is in Warren County.
The two main parts of the city juxtapose each other wonderfully, with Historic Downtown Loveland keeping much of its 19th and early 20th-century charm, while the area along Loveland-Madeira Road in Hamilton County maintains its post-World War II suburban charm, complete with shopping centers and sub-divisions.
Sam the Smoking Monkey
One of the area’s most famous residents, Sam was a monkey who called the Whistle Stop Inn, later the Train Stop Pub, home in the 1980s. Sam split his time between a cage outside under the bridge that crosses the Little Miami and the bar where he smoked cigarettes and drank beer.
Owner Ken Harris, legend has it, won Sam in a poker game. A popular attraction for several years, he was removed by the Humane Society in 1987 with charges brought against Harris. After a brief trial, Harris was acquitted and Sam returned to the bar.
Sam remained there until 1997 when Harris removed him in the wake of plans by Hamilton Township to turn what was.the monkey’s play area across the street into public restrooms for the bike trail. It turns out part of that land is on Hamilton Township property.
Today, the establishment is known as the Monkey Bar & Grill, an apparent nod to the legendary Sam whose fate remains a mystery to this day. Rumor has it that he was sent to a habitat in Florida, but this has never been confirmed.
Cincy Shirts, Loveland
In the heart of Historic Downtown Loveland, on the corner of West Loveland Avenue and Karl Brown Way, you’ll find our newest store in what is actually one of the neighborhood’s newer buildings. Built in 1955, the building is also home to Montgomery Cyclery, Plaid Room Records, Choice One Engineering, Diamond Quality Cleaning Services, the Kreative Spirits Antique Shop, and the Loveland Music Academy.
Photo credit: Minh Nguyen, via Wiki Commons